Ailing May limps through another Brexit defeat
Seventeen Conservative rebels, including former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin, Justine Greening and Ken Clarke, ensured the enfeebled May was defeated and told to set out an alternative strategy within three days of any defeat on her deal with Brussels.
On Tuesday, MPs beat the government by saying they would not accept a “no-deal” Brexit. May has been claiming that her unpopular deal and no deal are the only two options for the UK.
May had given herself three weeks to bring forward new proposals if her deal was rejected by MPs in their “meaningful vote”, rescheduled for next Tuesday from December 11.
The window was cut by a successful amendment by pro-EU, former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve.
The amendment was passed by 308 votes to 297.
Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow Grieve’s amendment to be put to a vote sparked anger among Tory Brexiteers.
Some accused the controversial Speaker of being biased against Brexit.
The move was seen as Bercow seizing control of the Brexit process from May and handing it to MPs.
The Speaker ignored legal advice and parliamentary precedent to allow a vote that gave May three days to present a “plan B”. Defeat for her deal still appears inevitable given lack of opposition support and Conservative divides.
Labour’s Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer suggested a delay to the UK’s departure from the March 19 deadline, the most senior Labour figure to do so.
He told MPs: “There is a question of the extension of Article 50, which may well be inevitable now, given the position that we are in, but of course we can only seek it, because the other 27 [member states] have to agree.
“We are going to have to look at what available options are realistically still on the table and what now are the merits of each of them.”
Support for a people’s vote on the Brexit process and May’s deal is gathering pace.
But Labour leader Corbyn is due to say in Wakefield today (Thursday) that a general election is the solution, puzzling the bulk of his supporters.
“A government that cannot get its business through the House of Commons is no government at all. So I say to Theresa May: if you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide,” Corbyn’s speech will say.
Pro-EU protesters approach parliament last year. Picture credit: Eurasia Times